Medical facilities generate a number of sharps waste that need to be disposed of correctly. But what’s a sharp and why does it matter?

What are Sharps?

The word “sharps” is a term used in healthcare for any device that is either already sharp or has the potential of becoming sharp.  Normally, when the word “sharps” is used, needles or syringes most often come to mind. But many other items fall under that category, and therefore fall under strict sharps disposal regulations.

These include items such as lancets (also called “fingerstick” devices), auto injectors (such as insulin or epinephrine pens), infusion sets (tubing used to supply drugs to the body with a needle) and scalpel blades.

But that list isn’t exhaustive, and it’s easy to forget that items that have the potential of becoming sharp are included in this grouping. Pasteur pipettes and any glass items that could break during handling or disposal are good examples of items that are under the “sharps” category for sharps disposal.

Proper Sharps Disposal

When handling contaminated sharps, it’s crucial to use caution to reduce the possibility of injury – safety first! Contaminated sharps should immediately – or as soon as possible – be disposed of in dedicated sharps disposal containers. Containers for used sharps should be strategically placed within your facility to be available for your staff wherever sharps are being utilized.

Your Sharps Disposal’s Containers

A few features are necessary: containers must be puncture-resistant, for the evident reason of safety to self and others, and the sides and bottom must be leak-proof. These containers must have a lid to ensure that the container can be closed to prevent sharps from spilling out.

Additionally, the container should be color-coded red or labeled appropriately to identify what it is being used for. Some sharps containers have a marked “Fill To” line to prevent overfilling, for safe closure and handling.

Once your sharps containers are full, they must be placed in another PG II Rated container appropriate for transport to be treated and disposed of.  Most healthcare facilities use properly labeled, corrugated container with a red bag liner. The sharps must remain in the original sharps container when being placed in this container for disposal. Think of it as a Russian doll!

Some larger containers are already PG II rated and available on the market today. They are identifiable because they feature a gasket where the lid meets the top of the container, which makes the sharps disposal container leak-proof and can be transported without being placed in another PG II container.

sharps_container-157x300 The Importance of Proper Sharps Disposal

Overwhelmed? Don’t Be!

The good news is with ImageFIRST, you don’t have to worry about your sharps disposal because we’ll walk you through everything you need, and your Customer Advocate will even help close up boxes ready for shipment and set up new ones. Find out more by calling 800-566-2137 or emailing medicalwaste@imagefirst.com.

Additional information: